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Logbook of Alabaster Marcone -
Entry List Edit
Entry #A01 Edit
A new post and a new logbook - at least business never changes. I am ROGUE TRADER AND LORD-CAPTAIN of The Final Offer Alabaster Marcone,
second son... eldest surviving son of Planetary President of Elysium and Chairman of the Marcone Horizon Corporation Sigmund Marcone. I am here.... ironically. My brother is dead and the ship mourns, I can see it in the eyes of my senior managers commanders. They weep not for the loss of my brother - though he was truly a legend in the making, of whom holo-films would have been made to inspire even Space Marines throughout the ages - but for the future lost with him, and replaced by one with me.
These are martial men and women, and why not? Former Lord-Captain Cassius was my father's bodyguard, head of security, and as I understand it, a mercenary leader before my father hired him, and cog in the mighty Imperial Guard machine in the days previous. My brother idolized the old stories of the Crusaders, and would have made an amazing one when he was scheduled to take over the ship just last week.
As for me, well... it's not like I haven't been underestimated before. Because we lost so many of the senior officers on that shuttle crash, it's been a total scramble among the new department heads. I made sure in every case feasible to reject Cassius' natural progression of officership. Obviously, the Navigators are so politically entrenched that I left them to their own, and Seneschal Hall is basically untouchable... at least until I can find a suitable second for the office - I don't like the ship's reports being prepared by someone from the former regime. But the rest? They need to be open to change, and beholden to me. I can't have the shadow of both my brother and the former Lord-Captain lingering over my stay here. This ship is my planet, and I'm going to make make a profit-making venture out of it, and these... voidfarers... are too used to running a loss and having the corporation look after them. Obviously, this has to be a gradual change. If they turn on me, it's not like I can send in the militia to break a strike.
I plan to use the fact they underestimate me carefully. I spent the week of my brother's funeral frantically studying helmsmanship principles, and I plan to be at the helm as often as possible. I'll put my shuttle pilot, Gunner Able, as helmsman to begin with, as he has a license to do so, but his dossier clearly shows more experience and interest in gunnery. I'll have him supervise a few manuevers to put the crew's mind at ease, and then put him in as gunnery chief. He gets his dream job, and I have a loyal manager - works for me.
Colonel Walker should be a relatively easy win as Arch-Militant. While not technically due for promotion to Arch-Militant, as the former deputy she should be familiar with all the procedures, and the family connection with my late brother may not be liked, but it will be accepted. She'll be gung-ho to shake-up the security forces to make sure they are better than her predecessor's routine, and when complete I'll have a loyal Head of Security - which is absolutely vital out here when the crew starts to realize they'll be working for their supper instead of grinding Thrones out of a defense budget trough. I need to make sure she doesn't do something rash or emotional though. I can't put this much backing into her and have her do something "romantic". She's got an Ensign to be her
spy on guide for me around the ship. I'll need to see what I can learn from Ensign Merriweather - if there are any faults in Security the Militant's Office, I need to know from as many directions as possible. Without Walker, I have a chance of being a hostage, cargo, ballast, or worse.
Chief Enginseer Gears is going to be a problem. He controls a third of my ship, is responsible for the systems that keep it running, and is so unsociable he didn't feel it necessary to attend Cassius' retirement ceremony on Elysium (and get killed so he could be replaced by someone less odious). I hope he can prove himself useful to me personally, but so far each conversation has consisted of him spouting gibberish about another ghoulish experiment to run on the topic at hand, and ending in me worrying about his sanity. He's a loose cannon right now (maybe more aptly a loose screw) that I can't afford. He needs to prove himself useful, and fast.
While the Chief Enginseer's antisocialness gives me concern, apparently the Navigator's inability to socialize may be his greatest asset. According to the dossier, the old man hasn't left his quarters in the Navigation Turret in a decade. He runs all his concerns through a deputy, and in this case it's going to be a smug overbearing young Navigator called Patronius Fox. It's really strange - on paper we're likely to get on the most, and I expect if I didn't have to appeal to 25,000 commoners we probably would do fine. But he has the air of someone who's never met someone who slaves for their wages. The last three years as Managing Director at the Horizon Corporation have been a real eye opener as to how to hold power inoffensively. It's so much easier to be a tyrant when the common people agree with you. Yes, I may have put some people out of their livelihood at Horizon, but every cut is based on fact and handled with tact and concern. Then when the business does better, the residual hatred is.... minimized - only a fool would think it forgotten. But those offended can't find solace in sympathetic ears and remain as a few disgruntled individuals.... not an uprising. I'll need to have a quiet chat with him noble to noble, about the burden of nobility.
I've made sure to comport myself as open, accommodating, and looking-to-learn. I wanted to do this with the affectations of my quarters and to make sure that old collectible holofilm poster was up on the wall in my quarters. I want to appear inexperienced. If people think their lives are dependant on instructing me in their roles, then they'll teach me. And if they teach me, they'll be telling me a lot more than just how to do their job. I've made enough changes for now - it's important to hold back and listen now.
Entry #A02 Edit
11 days at cruising speed to get to the Warp Point! 11 days! No wonder all this interstellar trade business takes forever! Ugh, it's one thing to tell a captain, take this thing to that place and come back, it should take a month. It's another thing to damn well be on the thing. I've been basically confined to my quarters out of choice. The bewildering layout of this place means I literally can't go anywhere unescorted. I doubt I'd be in any danger from the crew, but it would be quire embarasing to be lost on my own ship. I've found my way to the bridge and the officer's lounge from my cabin, and I've practiced finding those regularly enough. I tried to get more information out of Ensign Merriweather, but she's tightlipped and flabbergasted every time I speak with her. Arrow straight too - I tried offering her a beverage and she took it as a challenge to resist. If she's going to be my shadow around the ship, she could at least do my the courtesy of being amusing.
I met with the department officers and apparently, there is no tradition of Bon Voyage on board. I'm no fool - no crew in the universe would set out from its home port without some celebration, and between Colonel Walker's discipline reports and Seneschal Hall's demerit fines, it's obvious that some of the crew are enjoying libations. So I ordered the ship to have have a feast in the Observation dome. All off-duty crewmen who have not been demerited in the last three months will attend, and we can at least try and demilitarize this place... in baby steps at least. I need to create an atmosphere here of openness, competition, and reward. I've seen Walker and Merriweather close ranks twice in two days, afraid of incurring my wrath. Which means they're either genuinely afraid to be honest with me, or they're expecting there will be a time when they need to be.
Entry #A03 Edit
A fairly eventful day today. I manuvered the ship manually for the first time - it was definitely unnerving to feel that gargantuan monstrosity move beneath my feet and at my will. I will admit I did juke the controls a little, just to feel the response.... but definitely it is my place at the helm. Gunner Able has been ably dispatched to Gunnery Chief. I don't really want to think about that sentence anymore.
The Bon Voyage seemed to go as best as it could. Obviously the logistics involved were impressive, but the ship's tavern doled out spirits for scrip, and I've been told the voidsmen seem pleased. Or at least less grouchy. Which is something. The Navigators avoided the ceremony - not really a surprise, as they have no enlisted men in their department. Security reports very few over-indulged or were absent this morning. I didn't address the crew, as I'd hoped, but I was told the Dome was the wrong area - the Parade deck would be the ideal spot. It's probably for the best. I didn't really have anything inspiring to say about a simple cargo run, other than it was my first mission so.... step.... lively? This ship has a language all its own... and I don't quite know it yet. But I will.
Entry #A07 Edit
I think the word I'm looking for is crisitunity. Our Astropaths picked up a message from SubSector Commander Bale. Apparently, one of his madcap vessels got into trouble around Nyx, which is near our system exit. As loathe as I am to waste a precious second of thought on his ridiculous Eldar fantasies, real people are in trouble, and helping them is going to be the first step on establishing my reputation as a Rogue Trader. The senior officers' reaction to the news was very telling about them. Colonel Walker was eager to go, unsurprisingly. She has a small brigade at her command, and any chance to go into the breach must be tempting. Assistant Navigator Fox was in favour of leaving them to their "deserved" deaths, and Chief Mechanic Gears seemed to think this would be an appropriate time for looting property under the SubSector Commander. Seneschal Hall voiced the opinion that such rescue work can command a high fee, especially if there were survivors, and Able wanted to hurry and save people because it would be the right thing to do.
Since our meeting was interrupted by Walker's very ill-timed Boarding Drill, I gave the order that we will intervene at once, and move in the direction at Battle speed - my understanding of speeds is that they go Stop, Orbit, Manuvering, Cruise, Battle or Full, Flanking, and Emergency.... Either way, Battle is going to get us there in a day without destroying the ship.
Entry #A08 Edit
After a day of Battle Speed and a few close calls with debris, we have arrived on-station at Nyx. We swept the area and found no vessels except the light escort Entropy's Reversal in orbit, emitting a distress. Their acting commander hailed us and explained that their captain had gone to the surface with their compliment of militia, and had discovered a ruin, then promptly fell out of communication. I ordered Colonel Walker to deploy a scouting force to secure their landing zone, and await instructions. As expected, Walker wanted to take a light security dispatch into the temple and.... avenge?.... the massacre she found on the ground of the temple entrance. Naturally, she insisted until I had to order her not to go. I am currently arranging for a larger force to be deployed, as well as a number of our leading officers - I need to see these people in action in order to assess them.
Ensign Merriweather is here with my armored voidsuit. Lets hope my first excursion isn't my last.
Entry #A08.01 Edit
Now this is certainly becoming a mystery. I'm not going to say Bale's right - but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.
The Exploration team of myself, Walker, Gears, Able and Fox - along with a few security personnel landed on the surface of Nyx and went towards this ruin. It was large and grey, like slate or wet chalk, and it was very ornate in an utterly corrupt kind of way. It had large insectoid turrets protruding from either end, and in truth, with the central part, looked like insect jaws. Inside we found a large circular shrine filled with incongruent sites. There had been some kind of battle here, as five of the six remaining missing crewmen's corpses were here, frozen solid with the same strange slicing wounds that we had seen on the others outside. There were signs of a battle.... or rater there were signs of two battles. One was recent, and consisted of typical Imperial weapons and tactics having been used - lasgun holes, covering fire from autoguns... it seemed like it should have been over very quickly. Yet there were much older signs of damage to the site. There were craters and burn marks from weapons far removed from our manufactorums - chunks of diamond shaped metal, slices that are finer than a monosword, scorch patterns from things that are not las or plasma. While the recent battle looked like it was probably the dead fighting off an ambush of some kind, the majority of the damage caused by the unknown weapons was directed to the large statue in the middle of the room. It's not a statue of any Imperial saint I know of... and likely not of any person of the Empire, though it's hard to tell, as the damage is extensive. There are six alcoves around the room, and a number of murals. Each of the alcoves has a person-sized statue of some humanoid xeno, each depicted nude and quite suggestively posed - except one of the alcoves is empty.
I sent Walker and Able ahead with half the security so Gears, Fox, and I could examine the remainder of the site in peace. Able's "helpful" suggestions I'll chalk up to enthusiasm rather than trying to run my ship for me, but Walker's "protection" is a a little overbearing. Trying to convince her I would be okay in a secure room surrounded by officers ten steps from the exit and a hundred from the shuttle was humiliating for us both. While Walker and Able tried to track down the final missing man - The Entropy's Reversal's commanding officer, Captain North, I set Gears about analysing the room, Fox to looking into the unnatural eeriness of this place, and I looked into the items left behind. I found a pict taker and after getting Gears to fix it, we managed to get some gruesome clues.
There was a sixth statue in the final alcove, and the pict taker, who I assume was Captain North, was closely reviewing the mural. As soon as I saw it, I understood it, and I wish I hadn't. In front of each of the statues is a small silvered bowl. If blood is spilled into the bowl, the statue will come into action to escort the person to some xeno palace of pleasure. It seemed like such an obvious trap... but Captain North seemed to buy right into it.
It seems North must have been wounded in the battle, his tracks go deeper into the ruin. We got what we came for, we accounted for the crew of The Entropy's Reverse and returned its shuttle to it. I've made a backup copy of Captain North's pict recorder, as well as my own, and had them both filed in the librarium. I'll make another copy of the pict recorder and present it to Captain [name of Entropy's Reverse pilot] for their posterity. I need to get a message to Bale, unfortunately. While I'd like nothing more than to turn our guns on this creepy little ruin and be done with it, I'm certain Bale will pay extra for details. And seeing as how I've got a cargo hold full of mining colonists who might start asking for compensation if I keep them down there too much longer, Bale is going to need to start transferring some money our way.
Entry #A08.02 Edit
Well, when I'm right, I'm right. At least Bale is going to pay us for exploring this thing. And by pay us... I mean HANDSOMELY. I'm going to organise another, more thorough journey into the ruin, this time using our breech and boarding troops. I don't like the feeling of what's down there, but with what Bale wants to pay us, we could hire five ships to take the colonists where they want to go. We do need to retrieve examples of xenotech, and map the compound, see if we can discern its purpose... But these are all achievable objectives.
...Still. I certainly feel distracted knowing that Captain North is working with the... things. I'm not sure how voluntary it is, as his pict recorder was damaged in the first seconds of fighting, but it is his blood accompanying the unknown tracks in there.
If I'm hesitant, Walker is downright scared, and I can tell. She didn't want any of the other officers to return to the ruin. Especially me. It's preposterous, I can't very well order people to do my exploring for me - it's not savvy, profitable... or right. If The Final Offer is going to explore this ruin, it means this ruin was explored by Alabaster Marcone. I'll throw Walker a bone of concern for my safety, but she needs to soon realize this is my ship.
Entry #A08.03 Edit
Down and down the rabbit hole. I remember that from Classic Terran Literature in university. In the make-believe tale, an unsuspecting girl follows a rabbit into its burrow and ends up finding a secret world. Normally, this is where the writer would then state "This is a metaphor relating to..." and then list off a bunch slap-dash comparisons between the story and current local issues. Not me. We literally might have found a rabbit hole to a secret world. Let me elaborate.
We approached the ruin using a tactic Walker tells me is "recon in force", which is the military way of saying we're going to throw troops at it until we find what we're looking for. Of course, this is a cut back version of my own idea - I initially wanted to take a quarter of our security force, but Walker and Able both belaboured the point that the logistics on a zero atmosphere world would be difficult. Instead we settled for a breaching party of twenty, the head officers, and my unshakable "guides" from the security office. Once we'd assembled enough troops, Walker insisted I stay in the already-thoroughly-searched statue room. Walker led the rest of the officers on a search that returned a small gift from the old ruin's armory - a wickedly sharp sword called a "ghost sword" and a heavy gun of some kind.
After getting sore feet and a cold ass from waiting on Walker, Gears, and Able to return, I insisted I would not spend the remained of the expedition wallowing in safety. Walker began to protest as though the temple was full of assassins howling for my blood and I told her otherwise. This instant she said the word Captain, I told her I was the Captain, and this was my expedition, my shuttle, and my ship, and she would do well to remember that if she wants to have a place in any of them. I probably came down too hard on her, but I can't be coddled like an infant in front of my men. Later, I placed the xenotech heavy weapon at her disposal as means of apology - I hope she gets the subtlety.
It didn't take us long the temple's purpose. After searching some corridors, we found the missing statue. It was animated, hostile... and beautiful. I was taken completely aback by its stunning form, and seeing it move so nimbly and lithe.... For a brief second I almost understood why Captain North had succumbed to such temptation. My crew fell on it without such hesitation. It drew a power-weapon of some kind, shots were fired, and Gears suffered serious but not life-threatening wound. That was the jolt I needed. I leapt on it with my chainsword held high and lopped the infernal thing's leg off. The crew shattered it with gusto - no ammunition was spared when it stopped moving to ensure it would never move again.
The statue was guarding the strangest thing I had seen in my life - a floating ball of blackness, such that light couldn't escape, about the size of a bounceball. Fox studied it and declared it to be a warp-gate, though to where, he couldn't fathom from this side. I ordered Gears to send his creepy little servo-skull through the portal, and it returned, having captured images of a very similar room to the one we were currently standing in. There was breathable air, and the temperature was getting well up to survivable.
It's clear that this warrants further investigation. I've ordered Gears to have his engineers make the ruin airtight and to warm it up to shipboard temperature, as parts of it seem to hold air already - fortunately, The Final Offer's life support system has power to spare, and this rock has a lot of ice to make new atmo out of. I've ordered Walker to put together supplies for an expedition through the warp-gate. We need to know where it goes, if it's a threat, and how to shut it down or even exploit it. If this goes somewhere useful it would be a bridge worth a fleet of ships or more to the Horizon Corporation, and might change the dynamics of our system politics - permanently.
We've boxed the remainder of the statues. Gears' initial analysis of the statue we defeated shows that they're servitors of some kind, but not created like ours from deceased biomass. I haven't made a follow-up report to Bale - I haven't decided on what I'm going to tell him. I think it mostly depends on what's on the other side of that portal, really. Tomorrow at first watch, we make for the portal and get some answers.
Entry #A11 Edit
I've had to make this entry backfilled, as we have been away from the ship for an extended period I will endeavour to recollect my thoughts as they happened, but I do fear they may be somewhat muddled. They're certainly astounding!. I can hardly believe the scale and scope of our discovery! On #A09, we trekked through the portal - despite Colonel Walker's over mothering - to emerge on a lonely space station in the stars. A second portal confronted us, where we walked through a tunnel in the very stars themselves to emerge on a humble world in the Abyssal Demesne, and it was inhabited by a lost colony of Terra.... who creatively enough called their planet New Terra. They were at a level of technology I would believe to be roughly medieval - they had some knowledge of rudimentary forging of metals and masonry, but lacked the barest of civilized acoutriments, such as electricity or plumbing. They did have a bustling walled city and some primitive weapons and a certain zeal for the Emperor (more to follow), but our expedition of under a dozen was easily the most powerful fighting force planetside. We were greeted by their leadership cordially, but kept away from Captain North - all we were told was that he had become heretical and was placed in a dungeon. I would have liked to find out more straight away, but it was clear I would have had to use force.
The citizens of this New Terra - which I may deign to rename Windfall, though I'm actually unsure of the process of naming a planet - had been found by what they believed was the Emperor (or Emprah as they said it) himself, and had ordered the extermination of a sentient xeno species called the Rok. Now given a description of as primitive, scavenging, green subhumans, and the locals quaint accent, I hope I could be pardoned for mistaking their description for Orks - this was not the case. On #A10, we participated in a hunt on the creatures, who seemed peaceable enough, who were scrawny, small, and mostly just defending their homes. Walker was able to strike down a local chieftain during the melee, and we were able to earn the locals trust.
Upon our return, we were invited into the presence of the Emprah himself. The cathedral was certainly an impressive work when considered against the technology available on the planet, but certainly not the home of the Great Emperor - hardly even the scale of what I'd consider his bathhouse to be, and I'm not a particularly pious man. Still there was a large man stride a massive throne, and he began questioning us immediately as to our arrival method. Knowing the real Emperor is a powerful psyker who could melt the warp with a thought was half the proof of an imposter I needed, and a quick nod from Fox provided the other half. We fought against this false Emprah as a team, and I managed to slice through the false Emprah's neck, revealing a massive daemon on the throne. I must admit here that the absurdity of the situation took hold in my mind, some unspoken rationalization broke and, upon seeing the false Emprah become daemonflesh before my eyes, I began to cackle and howl like a true madman. It was deeply shameful, I lashed out at my crew in the futility of struggling against it, and had to be restrained until the moment of madness passed. I had read stories of fighting men touched by hors de guerre, and certainly I came as close to it as I ever care to. I hope such an experience will harden me, for I fear the result should I have such an outburst in a presence beyond my most trusted officers.
With the Emperor's Justice meted out on the hideous daemon and its twisted servants, Fox appraised the city's council, and luckily, the daemon's pollution had not permeated the town irreparably. Bread was broken and pledges of trade were commenced. And Captain North was returned to us. He was in awful shape, he had come quite close to death's door, having been locked, chained, and tortured in the Chief Inquisitor's dungeon. We sedated him and returned him to our sick bay, but he was too far gone. He awoke and began blaspheming in a most attrocious fashion. Our Inquisitor Advocate determined he was too far gone, and had become a corrupted servant of those-who-must-not-be-named, and had to be purged to prevent further heresy. I had hoped to return him to his ship to recuperate, but I can imagine very few circumstances where I'd contradict the Ecclesiarchy, and Captain North isn't one of them. I'm sure my motives will be questioned, but those question should die quickly when his purging was ordered by the Inquisitor.
I voxed my father to report our success. Our discovery of technology and ruins will be worth a significant discount to our system tithes, and the bounty of the found planet should reduce our imports of food and raw materials dramatically, since these goods won't have to travel via the warp to reach our skies. I'm sure favorable immigration/emigration strategies can be worked as well, with a more favourable to all distribution of labour - many technicians will be required to stake our claim on our new planet, and many of its citizens will want to migrate to our towns for manufacturing and service posts. All in all, we can create a migration strategy without need for jumping through the warp, therefore, this can't be anything but a major boon.
The project manager in me wishes I could ignore the mining colonists in our hold and move them via the Nyx-gate to the new planet instead.... but a contract is a contract. Tomorrow morning, we will leave Nyx's orbit for the Warp.
Entry #A12 Edit
I am struggling to remember a day I've been more frustrated and angry and thoroughly disappointed at the same time! All the while being "LUCKY" to still be alive. It started just as we were finishing our de-orbiting checks, and transmitting our reports to Elysium. No sooner had we begun spinning up our engines then what was once a fellow Havoc-class raider hopped into our system. I may not be a xenologist yet, but even I know an Ork ship when I see one. All of a sudden, manual control on the ship is completely lost and the greenskinned sons of fungus are barrelling down on us. And I'd say we were sitting ducks, but the ship started.... well.... it started doing.... basically what I was going to do.... but I had no idea it was doing it! We passed each other nose-to-nose and there's no explanation as to how we were unscathed - they outgunned us 3-to-1 yet damage control reported minimal-to-no meaningful hits. On the other hand, we managed to score decisive hits to the ork-ship's steering, and as we had more manuverability and speed, I wrested the sip behind our foe as Walker excellently led a surgical strike on the enemy's main engines. You would think I would be jubilant at such an easy win!
Unfortunately, Gunnery Chief Able took every opportunity to disagree, complain, and backbite, right on the bridge! How he thought I would tolerate such undermining in the face of danger, I'll never know! When the ship seemed to manuever on its own, he sought to question the strategy of our tactics, as though I was purposefully trying to kill us all. I ordered him to cease or be removed from the bridge, he insisted so I had his vox cut, and as he continued Ihad to order him removed. I couldn't believe it! That the ship charged into the fray on its own I had no control over - of course I would have wanted to use our superior range to avoid potential boarding actions and stay away from the orcish short-ranged cannons - but the initial manuevers weren't my design. After such a public and shocking display of questioning authority, what could I do?
I took Walker with me to discipline Able. I didn't want to have to punish a - mostly - loyal friend, but I can't have my judgement called in front of the ship, and especially in mid-combat. I had overheard one of the ensign's complaining of being put on "a week's bread-and-water" for a punishment, so I figured that was a good place to start. I asked Walker what she thought, and she was genuinely suspicious that Able was somehow connected to the shuttle crash that put me on this ship. I found that odd, and listened.... but Walker sounded even more paranoid than me. In the end I took Walker, and had a heart-to-heart with Able, and we agreed that such comments need to be taken privately, as I really genuinely need his expertise. (TBC)